December 31st 1916
My own darling wife -
Although I have no news to tell you, as I am still in hospital, I feel that I must write & say something on this, the last day of the old year, this is the night that we all have to look back on the doings & events of the past year & make new resolutions & greater efforts to rectify the wrongs & the misunderstandings of the past, some say that it cant do any good to rake up old misdeeds & errors, but I think it does one good, in that it shows us our shortcomings & helps us to frame a way for ourselves as to our future guidance & behaviour. I did not get up today as I was’nt feeling too well, & I could not settle my mind to reading, so I just lay here & thought. I thought all about what had happened this last two miserable years & about all the time before that, what a lot you & I have missed, dear, through being separated so long, what a lot of love, & joy, & pleasure in our children & their happiness we have missed, but after all, the black clouds are behind us now, & there are bright days ahead of us once more, when you & I dear will be able to make up for all the happiness & love we have missed, I have made my New Years resolution & I might as well tell it to you here, it is this: - I resolve that I will love & honour my wife & family & that I will cherish them in my heart & do all in my power to make them forget the unhappiness & misery of the past few years, by loving them more than I have ever done in the past, if that were possible, my thoughts are of you, my darling, all the time, & no one or anything else matters to me in this world.
Even when I look back on those dark days before the war, when I was out of work & everything seemed to go wrong with us & I was peevish & cross & unreasonable with you, dear, I cant help thinking that even then we were happy because we still had each other, but we did not realise it, but we did realize it on that dark day when I had to say Good Bye & I left the house with a great big lump in my throat & a feeling that my heart would break, I think that was the blackest day in my life, & then I think of what joy I felt that night in Victoria when I was standing in the Hotel & I heard George call daddy, what a happy few days those were, do you remember the Sunday we all went on the sea shore, we were happy then, were’nt we, dear, & then again that awful parting, which after all had its own sweetness, for then we knew that our hearts were true to each other, even if it had been my misfortune to get killed in France, you were a brave girl dear, much braver than I was, & I know your heart was breaking, even as you smiled & did your best to hearten me on my way, since those days I have been to France, I have done my bit as the saying is, & now I am getting better every day of a sickness that at times threatened to get the better of me & I think that surely all those black clouds which have been hanging over me so long will soon disappear & that bright days will soon come to both of us, so now that we have looked on the past, let us forget it & remember only the bright spots in it & look forward to the happy future, even if I dont get home before the end of the war I dont think it will be very long now, all this peace talk that is going on now is sure to amount to something, at any rate it is the beginning of the end & I think you will find that the end will come soon, it may come sooner than we anticipate, & then think, dear, what a happy life we can make for ourselves, let us live for each other alone & our children & live our lives in our own way, you can depend on me dear, that I will never give way to the drink again like I used to do, I think I have learned my lesson, & if I get any kind of a decent job at all when I get back, we should be able to live, if not in luxury, at any rate we would be comfortable, it will be like getting married over again, we will have to start all over at the beginning, but we will need each others help all the time & that is where our love for each other comes in, for it will enable us to bear the disappointments & enjoy the succeses that may come to us; no doubt, dear, you will think that this is a funny letter for me to write, but I am just writing the way I feel, you must know, dear, that I am a very lonely man, I have made very few friends over here & I have had no pleasures, I think, in fact I know that I am greatly changed, I am not the same man I was, I dont feel like mixing up with other fellows, I would much rather mosey along by myself & be left alone with my own thoughts, any sort of a noise or crowd annoys me, so that some fellows call me a crank, perhaps I am, but I feel that if I could only get away from it all & get home again to you that I would be all right, I got a pretty severe shell shock at the front & I still feel the effects of it, my nerves are all unstrung, & I sometimes wake up at night with most violent nightmares, I feel sure that if I could only get away to the quietness & security of my own home that all this would leave me, as it is, along as I am in the army, I know that I will never feel right, I explained all this to the doctors here, but they make me tired, they all try to make a joke of it & tell me how healthy & strong I look & that I will soon feel so well that I’ll want to go & kill some more Germans & a lot of tommy rot like that, & the nursing sisters are as bad, of course they mean well & I know they are trying to raise my spirits, but instead of that they are rubbing me the wrong way & I dont like it. Perhaps all this is very foolish, but you are the only one I can say these things to, I wish I was with you, so that I could lay my head on your breast & talk to you as I would like, I would love to feel your arms around my neck again & your lips against mine & hear you say, I love you Jack, that would be more good to me than all the medicine & doctors & nurses in the world.
And now, dear one, dont you think I have said enough about myself, what do you think of me, do you think me selfish? well, perhaps I am, but on this last night of the old year one has to look back & kind of weigh things up, I wanted to say a whole lot more, but my memory does not carry very good, & I am afraid I have forgotten a lot, but never mind, dear, when I get home, there will be lots of time & when we get talking together, there will be a good long story for both of us & the sweetest part of the story will be when we are in each others arms & we tell each other the old old story that never dies, of our love.
Write soon to me dear Sweetheart, & tell me all the news. How is George getting along & Eileen, are you going to put them to school soon? I guess they will like to go all right, what have you done with yourself this New Year? are you happy & are you keeping all right. Tell me everything, dear heart, for I like to hear you speak to me. My thoughts are very tender to you this last night of the old year.
Give George & Eileen a big love from me, dear & lots of kisses & wishing you & them all Happiness & Joy in the coming year & with a million kisses & all my love, I remain as ever & until the end your own loving Husband